Meet the 2018 Leadership Development Institute 360°/365 Fellows

LDI 360 2018.jpg

The California School-Age Consortium is proud to present our 2018 Leadership Development Institute 360°/365 fellowship.  These are all amazing leaders who have demonstrated unrivaled commitment to the field and drive for advanced leadership in the out-of-school time and early learning field.

Read their stories here and meet them in person by attending the 2018 LDI 360°/365 Recognition Ceremony!


Tighist Bihon has been working for Girls Inc. of Alameda County since 2014, where she is currently a Program Coordinator.  Girls Inc. is a nonprofit organization that encourages all girls to be "Strong, Smart, and Bold" by helping them master foundational academic skill, practice healthy behaviors and build positive relationships with peers and adults. Prior to working at Girls Inc., Tighist Bihon worked in the day school and afterschool field for 12 years with K-5 students in different capacities.          

Tighist Bihon was born and raised in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She moved to the United States when she was 15 and graduated from Hillsdale High School in San Mateo where she discovered the need for an ELL (English Language Learners) program. Soon after moving to the East Bay, she received her Bachelors of Social Work from the University of California State, East Bay and fell in love with the community. Soon after that Tighist start working at Acorn Woodland Elementary as a Reading Interventionist, where she helped English Language Learners by providing intensive small group intervention.    

You don’t make progress by standing on the sidelines, whimpering and complaining. You make progress by implementing ideas.
— Shirley Chrisholm

Tighist is currently working for Girls Inc. of Alameda County as a Program Coordinator at Acorn Woodland Elementary, where she continues to support youth and families by providing a strong Literacy program and inspiring youth to be Strong: Through mental and physical health, Smart: Through academic engagement and Bold: Through leadership development. She is also passionate about building a strong sense of community in her program by making an impact on the lives of youth she serves and providing a safe place for youth to come for support.

Tighist has continued her leadership journey in 2018 with her acceptance to CalSAC’s Leadership Development Institute, which has helped her develop as a leader. She looks forward to new possibilities where she can continue to learn, grow and serve youth and their families.  


Gracie Degnan is a supervisor for the after school program, ESS, in the Poway Unified School District located in San Diego. Gracie’s passion for children and teaching lead her right back to the school district that she attended from elementary school through high school. Gracie started her journey with ESS in 2001 as a program aide working with kindergarten students. She realized quickly that ESS gave her a bigger purpose. Working in an after school program gave Gracie the golden opportunity to make a difference in many students lives outside of the classroom setting alone. Gracie recognizes the important role she plays when working with the youngest of students in her school district. Elementary school is often the start for students to navigate complex social situations on their own and ESS helps support each student on their journey.. ESS has given her the platform to introduce and encourage social and emotional learning in her program. Her strong belief that each child’s story is valuable and worthy to be heard lead her in introducing both emotional and social learning through program focus projects, age appropriate group activities and modeling behavior at site that demonstrates the crucial need to connect with each child who attends the ESS program. ESS is not only a safe program for her students to attend as families work, but it’s a space that allows students the opportunities to try new things and build meaningful relationships with peers.

Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.
— Maya Angelou

Gracie received her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in education with a minor in sociology. Gracie has attended The National After School conference in Orlando, Boost trainings including a plethora of district supported professional development trainings. She would love to travel the country and help train and support other after school programs and professionals with tools that would help support their program’s specific needs. Gracie lives in San Diego with her husband Scott and their three year old daughter Presley. Gracie loves reading, spending quality time with her family and believes music heals all things.


Adilene Delgadillo never imagined working in the educational field as a potential career. Ten years later, she has worked her way from impacting one school site to impacting whole communities. Adilene had been involved with the afterschool world since 2007. She started her early years as a PE instructor, then ASP tutor, and then summer instructor with the City of Santa Maria Afterschool Education and Safety program.

In these roles, Adilene saw her ability to take initiative and lead program activities with little to no direction, opening the opportunity to run her own program. Adilene saw the value of afterschool and the impact it had on the children and their families from working directly with the students and making meaningful connections by working directly with parents and staff. Since then Adilene has been hooked on the afterschool world.

After moving to Fresno and graduating from Fresno State with a BA in Sociology, Adilene became a part of California Teaching Fellows Foundation (CTFF) in 2012. She started in Madera, where she immediately connected with the students and families, which became a home away from home. She had the opportunity to start and run Millview Elementary’s afterschool program for 3 years. While in Madera as a Program Lead, Adilene continued to see the impact that a quality afterschool program can do for youth back home. 

The ultimate reward is not the amount of lives I impact in my lifetime but rather how I impact those lives to continue to stand up for what’s right, that’s priceless.
— Anonymous

Adilene’s fondest memories as Lead was the privilege to serve and train her program’s parents on the various parenting styles and the future opportunities that their children possess. Through various trainings and workshops Adilene gained the ability to help families restructure their parenting style, and invest and focus in the future of their children. Using herself as an example, she was allowed to use her own personal growing experience along with the struggles she faced growing up within her family. She is a firm believer that a strong foundation starts in the home of the child. Parents got to see the opportunities their children have, no matter the path of life they are coming from.

As of October 2015, Adilene has been a Site Liaison for CTFF, overseeing 14 after school programs in the Fresno Unified area.  She is determined to make sure all students and families have the same access and equity for success, no matter who they are or where they come from.


Stephanie Dietrich was born and raised in Oakland, California. Coming from a first-generation immigrant family, she experienced the needs of the community and the impact that community organizations have in improving families and individuals’ lives. Growing up she was involved in different youth groups that supported her growth, including organizations like Teens On Target, the Martin Luther King Jr. Freedom Center and Huaxtec. Stephanie attended Chabot College and received her degree in Humanities.

After graduating, Stephanie was determined to give back to the community that helped lead her success. Being a first-generation college student, she knew having a positive impact on young women in Oakland was one of her goals and so she joined Girls Inc. of Alameda County in August of 2014.

Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world.
— Dolores Huerta

During her time at Girls Inc. of Alameda County, Stephanie has piloted several programs in East Oakland Middle Schools.  As a part of the Girls Inc. community, Stephanie has shown her commitment and dedication to Oakland youth, and was soon promoted to Middle School Coordinator and Interim- Middle School Manager. This August of 2018, Stephanie began the school year spearheading the first Middle School lead site that Girls Inc. of Alameda County holds.  

Stephanie’s passion to continue moving her community forward is something that she holds very highly. Seeing youth in her communities having small and big victories every day is what keeps her going.


Leticia Espino is a native Californian who has been serving the community for the past 16 years.  Her career began in ASES programming in San Jose, California, while attending San Jose State University to pursue and further her education.  Throughout her college career she took on distinct leadership roles within out-of-school time, and her interest in supporting afterschool programs became one of her passions in serving different communities within San Jose.

Leticia began working for the City of San Jose in 2002 for a Level 3 ASES site at Anne Darling Elementary as a front line staff. Her interest in serving a diverse population gave her the drive to seek different leadership roles within the out-of-school team, where she experienced direct services to coordinating.  Leticia also had the privilege to work for the non-profit Boys & Girls Club of Silicon Valley as a Director.  There, she learned the non-profit world and was eventually able to take that expertise back to the City of San Jose as a Recreation Specialist.  She then embarked on efforts in building quality programming and staff. During this time, she developed new networking relationships that would be beneficial in starting new afterschool sites and continuing to build others.  She also had the privilege of attending trainings and conferences, such as the BOOST (Best of Out-of-School Time) Conference, that would encourage her career development.

We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated.
— Maya Angelou

Throughout her years working in out-of-school time, Leticia’s passion in working with the community advanced her desire to support other community services.  In May 2018, Leticia was promoted and given the opportunity to fill the Recreation Supervisor role, while attending CalSAC Leadership Development Institute 360/365.  She is committed to providing community access and is inspired to advocate for today’s youth and the future.


Araceli Espinoza, was born and raised in south east Los Angeles, and has been in youth work for the entirety of her career. She began working in her community as a youth leader while in high school; putting together a Battle of the Bands for the Latino punk bands in the area. In 2009, Araceli started working in literacy at her local library, where she also received literacy support as a young person. In the four years that Araceli worked with the library, she worked with various schools in expanding the Battle of the Books competition among the district. She eventually moved to San Francisco, to study the fine art at the San Francisco Art Institute. In 2015, she graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in painting. Through her experience in art school, she made it a point to create art that celebrated the negative stereotypes, and also gave a face to women who are underrepresented in Mexico.

While studying, she stumbled across Girls Inc. of Alameda County in Oakland, CA. She began her career as a program leader in 2014. Going back to her roots of literacy work, Araceli found a way to incorporate art into her lessons, and expanding the curriculum with her young scholars. She found herself in a place to creatively create an art curriculum that touches on literacy, feminism, and cultural representation. Through Girls Inc. training, Araceli found a new love for math through art and music. Araceli presently works as an after school program coordinator at an Oakland elementary school.

Araceli’s fundamental values of giving back comes from being a first generation Mexican American daughter. She was taught to give back to the community in which raised her, to provide a space for young people to thrive in a world where they are seen as a stereotypes and may not be given the opportunities they deserve. Her goal is to build an after school program that improves the literacy skills of elementary students, and also build an enrichment program that provides a space for young scholars to creatively explore their interests. Representation matters in Araceli’s program, and encourages her team to bring their true selves.

Outside of work, Araceli takes care of herself by painting, visiting museums and galleries, hiking around the Bay Area, propagating vegetables, and in the summer enjoying some good old Dodgers beisbol.

I am cultureless because, as a feminist, I challenge the collective cultural/religious male-derived beliefs of Indo-Hispanics and Anglos; yet I am cultured because I am participating in the creation of yet another culture, a new story to explain the world and our participation in it, a new value system with images and symbols that connect us to each other and to the planet.
— Gloria Anzaldua


Christopher Ibarra, as a young man growing up in East Los Angeles, learned very early on the importance of education, as well as supportive, caring teachers, in students’ lives. From tutoring peers in elementary school to working in his church’s youth group and catechism classes, he developed the love of supporting others, and the understanding of the importance of open-minded, thoughtful support for young learners. In acquiring his B.A. in History from CSU East Bay, Christopher sought to become a high school History teacher. As he was finishing up his degree, he ended finding a different path to aiding youth in their education in school and life: after-school programming.

As a Reading/Math Tutor, Recreation Leader and Comic Book Leader at Laurel Elementary in Oakland, Christopher was charmed by the boundless exuberance, inherent curiousity, and thirst for knowledge of elementary students. He also learned of wonderful youth development skills and concepts, such as having a growth mindset and encouraging youth voice to help direct their learning. He also found that his creativity, dedication to growth, and gregarious nature proved vital assets in creating an intentional yet engaging activities for youth.

After 3 years with Learning For Life at Laurel, Christopher discovered Girls Inc. of Alameda County, which transformed his outlook on after school programming and what can be accomplished there. In 5+ years as a program leader and Site Coordinator, Christopher has utilized the ethos of supporting young women to be “strong, smart and bold” to develop programming that not only grows the literacy ability of our elementary students, but also supports youth to be empathetic, helpful, and compassionate community members. He strives to improve equity of voice and advocates for practices and curriculum that also aids our young men to be allies to young women and understanding of the obstacles they face.

Now a Fellow in Leadership Development Institute through CalSAC, he continues his journey to be an advocate for youth and socio-emotional learning while developing the passion and skills of tomorrow’s youth developers.

If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people together to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


Sarah Izquierdo has been working in Poway Unified School District’s Extended Student Services for the past seven years. It began as a side job to get her through college, but she quickly discovered this was where she wanted to be. She is now an ESS Supervisor and loves every wacky, hectic, fun loving minute of it. Sarah will find any reason to get out of her office and meet the kids on the playground, excite and engage them with a STEAM activity, or encourage them through their homework.

Growing up Sarah always knew she wanted to work with kids. Over the years, her goals seemed to endlessly morph; ranging from a high school history teacher, a kindergarten teacher, and even a biology professor. While these goals have ebbed and flowed one thing has remained constant, a passion for impacting children’s lives in a positive way. Sarah has found her niche at Extended Student Services in San Diego’s Poway Unified School District.

Sarah loves before/after school because of the sense of safety, security and growth that is provided for these children. While ESS may not be a typical classroom setting, students are learning priceless life lessons regarding social skills, communication, and establishing trust. This positive environment is so vital, as many of these children will be here from six in the morning all the way until six at night.

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.
— Carl Sagan

Sarah grew up in a small town in North County San Diego, her schools didn’t offer on-site childcare and many children walked home or hung around local parks unsupervised. Being shy, Sarah had a hard time finding her place and struggled amongst her turbulent home life. She found support from teachers and mentors that gave her a sense of empowerment and belonging. Sarah gives back by being that support system that she felt she lacked growing up. ESS is a place where she can connect with students and empower them to persevere, even when life feels overwhelming.   

Sarah is currently working hard planning summer for her site. This will be her third year at one of PUSD’s largest ESS sites. For Sarah, summer will be full of field trips to the beach, lost sandals, endless sunscreen, a little yoga, art club, garden club, karaoke club, counting kids on the bus, waiting for the bus, dealing with cuts, scrapes and bee stings, and she wouldn’t want it any other way.

In Sarah’s free time you can expect to find her running with her dog, Sagan, hiking with her husband, Vilas, or teaching/practicing yoga.


Amy Jewett was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is a quintessential Californian. Above all else, Amy is a true optimist and a lover of people, animals, and the environment. As a vegan, Amy lives her life with the intention of making choices that better those around her with the ultimate goal of leaving the planet a better place than she entered it.

Amy has an incredible zeal for learning and is on a lifelong quest for knowledge. She received her B.S. in Kinesiology with a minor in Psychology from San José State University, where she focused her education on motivating others to engage in healthy recreation throughout their whole lifespan. Her passion for altruism began in Kindergarten when she joined the Girl Scouts and continued to evolve through High School as she completed her Silver Award. Through her early exposure to volunteerism, she saw the tremendous benefit in working with others in leveraging resources to help better the community. It was this drive to help and encourage others that led to her studies in Kinesiology, and ultimately to her career with the City of San José.

She has worked in the recreation field for seven years and has been a part of the City of San José’s Parks, Recreation, and Neighborhood Services department for the last four years. Amy began her career as a fitness instructor and is a certified Matter of Balance Coach, a certified Conductorcise instructor, and an Enhance Fitness Master Trainer. Although Amy began her career working with older adults, she has been working in the Citywide Out-of-School Time office for the past 18 months, where she focuses on developing and communicating programmatic best practices and policies, contract management, and staff trainings.

Even the smallest person can change the course of the future.
— J.R.R. Tolkien

In 2017, through a grant partnership with the Bower’s Institute of the Tech Museum of Innovation, Amy attended an intensive 2-week training to become an Engineering Education Leader. As part of her responsibilities, she now trains staff on best practices for the development and implementation of engineering lessons for youth ages 5 – 17. Amy has continued her professional education in 2018 with her acceptance to CalSAC’s Leadership Development Institute, which has provided her with necessary tools and resources to increase her effectiveness as a leader.

Amy has a thirst for knowledge and loves sharing information and resources with those around her. Throughout her time working with the City of San José, her passion for improving the community has continued to grow. She is committed to being an advocate for youth by providing equitable, quality programs that are accessible to all. In her free time, Amy loves reading, exploring new places, cooking, and exercising her green thumb in her garden.


Donald (Donnie) Kirchmeier was born and raised in San Diego California.  He has been working for the Poway Unified School District (PUSD) in the Extended Students Services (ESS) program for the last 17 years.  He started out as a program aide and then after about 4 years moved into a leadership role as a LEAD assistant.  Donnie then quickly became an ESS Supervisor in 2006.  He has worked at many different size schools in different demographics within the PUSD schools.  His most recent challenge was taking the ESS program into the realm of Middle School aged students, with the opening of the districts 39th school Design39 Campus and TK-8th School.  Not only is this a school that services Tk-8th grade students, it also has a different learning model that incorporates project based learning, growth mindset, and design thinking along with many other aspects to, “Change the way we do school.”

The difference between a successful person and others is not lack of strength not a lack of knowledge but rather a lack of will.
— Vince Lombardi

Donnie had intentions of becoming a middle school math teacher, but found his passion working with students in the before and afterschool programs.  He has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Educational Studies with a Minor in Child-development.  He has started classes for his Masters Degree in Public Administration.  Donnie is currently working in the same school district that he attended since kindergarten, and that three generations of his family has also worked for, spanning over the last 50 years.

Donnie found the love of his life while working at one of his elementary schools, and is now married with three beautiful children that take up most of his time.  When he can find time away from his family he enjoys playing golf and softball.


Jamie Marcil was born in San Jose and raised in Reno, Nevada. After graduating high school in Reno, she would eventually find her way back to the Bay Area. Through Jamie’s higher education journey, she discovered her true passion for helping others. To Jamie, it soon became imperative that she pick a career path and life style in creating change in her community.

While at SJSU, Jamie volunteered for CommUniverCity to build a Community Garden for local students to learn about the importance of nutrition and sustainable agriculture. Jamie also became a Mentor with Fresh Lifelines for Youth, a non-profit that provides one-on-one mentoring for youth on probation to support their transition and future success. During her Junior year of college, Jamie entered the Youth Intervention field after being an afterschool leader for 6 years.   Jamie’s passion for making a difference in youth lives lead to her providing life skills empowerment programs to young women in locked down facilities. After experiencing training and leadership building with the Girl Scouts Got Choices program, Jamie began to advance professionally within her career. Jamie would take on her next role with Catholic Charities to provide case management for in-risk youth on gang probation. Throughout her experience working with Youth Intervention Jamie grew as a leader, strengthened her cultural awareness, and grew deeper empathy for others.

People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
— Steve Jobs

With a desire to grow into a leadership role and youth program developer, Jamie pursued an opportunity with the City of San Jose. That opportunity allowed Jamie to empower at-risk youth, present at the Justice-involved Females Conference, and facilitate ongoing life skills classes with the Mayors Gang Prevention Task Force. Jamie’s interpersonal skills and social awareness allowed her to thrive within her position and develop new curriculum for the program. After two years with CSJ Jamie applied for a promotional opportunity and successfully obtained a specialist position with the City Wide Out of School time office. This dynamic role allows Jamie to provide quality programming to youth living in different communities around San Jose. Much of Jamie’s career has been focused on improving, supporting, and healing youth that have been involved in the justice system. Jamie has a passion for helping youth find their strengths and create positive change. As part of this process Jamie is currently working with another LDI fellow to start the first annual Teen Summer Yosemite family camp trip.

This summer will allow Jamie to utilize her newly attained leadership skills to train and support new coming staff. Jamie truly believes in training opportunities that are essential to growth, professional development, and building motivation for future leaders. Few people get to say that they love what they do or that they found a passion that helps pay the bills, but Jamie acknowledges every day that she has found her spark with building up community. Jamie hopes to continue building her experience within the city of San Jose and create a legacy in developing new programs.


Mumtaz Mohammad was born and raised in San Jose, California. She attended San Francisco State University where she studied and received her Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice Studies. During her studies at San Francisco State University, Mumtaz began working with youth at the YMCA and City of San Jose in afterschool programming. As a recreation leader, she quickly discovered her passion for the youth and began dedicating her time to inspire and motive youth to explore their potential in innovation, health, and leadership.

In July 2016, Mumtaz accepted the role as a Youth Program Specialist for the City of San Jose. Mumtaz currently oversees four sites in addition to the preschool programming and special events for the community. Mumtaz has used the CalSAC curriculum to enhance the programming. She continues to help provide quality care to youth through educational programming and fun opportunities that participants may not have otherwise had a chance to engage in at school or at home. Mumtaz appreciates the opportunity to be a role model for the youth and to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Outside of her professional life, Mumtaz has a passion for cars, hiking, and attending sporting events. She also enjoys traveling to different countries and eating an array of diverse foods.

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.
— Helen Keller


Betty Ramirez oversees the San José Youth Commission for the City of San José. She first started her career with the City of San José as an Outreach Worker II in the Youth Employment Service program for underprivileged youth.  She revamped the program to include a series of workshops she called PREP - Preparation, Resilience, Education, and Passion. The workshops and trainings equipped the young people with interpersonal skills and encouragement to achieve their goals. During that time, she recalls receiving a letter from a young man informing her that he was accepted to Santa Clara University. He wanted to inform her that, although he wanted to give up and just be another statistic, he remembered Bettys’ advice, and because of her advice and constant support and encouragement he achieved his goal of going back to school after overcoming some difficult obstacles in his life.

Betty’s continual support of young people is now seen through the San Jose Youth Commission.  Her support and encouragement has enable high school students to see themselves as true leaders of not only tomorrow, but of today.  Many such leaders have gone on to four-year universities and some now are fulfilling their dreams as policy makers in local government offices throughout the country. 

Through her work with the youth commission she has spread headed the first ever city-wide annual youth conference for the City of San José.  Since its commencement ten years ago, the youth conference has had themes involving youth in community service to youth entrepreneurship, to youth in education, and environment.  She has expanded the Youth Commission opportunity to all youth within the city by creating Youth Advisory Council’s groups in each city district.  She also created the Youth Commission Summer internship program.  Betty believes that by exposing youth to real world issues early in their life, youth will be better prepared to take on these issues and make the necessary changes to create a better future for us all.  

I will act as if what I do makes a difference.
— William James

Through her work with youth, Betty has been invited to speak to middle school students, high school students, and students in county-wide leadership programs. She also recently completed the CalSAC Training of Trainers program and is now a CalSAC Certified trainer for afterschool programs and agencies.  She has conducted workshops for agencies such as the Boys and Girls Club, and Catholic Charities to name a few.  She is also training afterschool agencies as part of the CalSAC Science Action Club and is working with agencies to bring STEM curriculum into their programs.  

Besides all of that, Betty is an avid hiker and loves the outdoors.  She is working towards achieving her personal goal of obtaining her degree in Theology.  She loves to travel and do mission work in third world countries.  Her mode in life is, love fully, laugh fully, and enjoy the journey of touching those near you deeply.


Damian Reyna has been working with youth since 2009. He began his career in education as an afterschool tutor and a coach with the California Teaching Fellow Foundation where he quickly saw the impact and the value that a quality afterschool programs can have on improving the lives of young people. He is passionate about serving his community and views afterschool as the perfect catalyst to help improve the lives of others. He believes that every student deserves to have access to a high-quality education and that education is the key to improving communities.

Damian has had the opportunity to work in the afterschool field for almost 10 years. During this time, he has been a site lead at two ASES funded middle school after school programs, and helped coordinate one of the biggest summer programs in the state with After School University, based out of Fresno, which has reached over 1,000 students each summer. He has also worked as a Site Liaison with California Teaching Fellows. As a liaison, he has had the pleasure of serving the Tulare County and Madera Unified areas.

One of Damian’s fondest memories of working with afterschool programs has been coordinating field trips for students to have the opportunity to expand their horizons and to experience events that they may not have had without their afterschool programs. Among those field trips are trips to UCLA, Stanford, the San Jose Tech Museum, snowboarding at China Peak, in-depth tours of Fresno State University, and even coordinating a trip for a group of elementary students to attend a Summer Matters Rally in Sacramento.

Damian has a passion for being able to have students showcase their achievements and has been a part of coordinating many events that have allowed them to do so. Some events have included summer program culminating events at Fresno State, end of the year afterschool program showcases at Chukchansi Park in Fresno, and district showcases in Central Unified and Dinuba Unified school districts.

Damian has also been in charge of a high school internship program in which the program provided valuable work experience and workshops for Fresno Unified high school students.

Damian hopes to continue his work and follow his passion of providing opportunities for the youth in his community.


Kaleigh Soule has been working for the Poway Unified School District’s Extended Student Services for the past eight years. Kaleigh has always had a passion for working with students and enriching their lives. She always knew she wanted to work with children and figured this was a perfect place to start. What began as a great job through college, has turned into a career that she loves. Kaleigh started as an aide and has worked her way up through ESS. She has been a Supervisor for the last three years. In her role, every single day is a new adventure. She loves everything from playing soccer on the field with the students, working on staff trainings and even managing the site budget.

As a Supervisor, Kaleigh is able to create a safe, positive, and educational environment for the students in her program. In addition, she loves that she can help ease parent’s minds as they are busy working to support their families. Kaleigh loves the management aspect of her job and finds the staff interaction to be just as enriching as the interactions with children. In her role, she is able to support staff as young adults, as they begin their journey into adulthood. Kaleigh’s favorite part of her job is planning summer camp because she can really use her creativity in collaboration with her staff to make sure the kids enjoy their time. This summer, she has planned a “Kidchella” day. The day will be filled with student and staff performances, a flower crown making station, and food stations, to name a few.

Be the change you wish to see in the World.
— Mahatma Gandhi

Kaleigh received her Bachelor’s Degree from Arizona State University in Family and Human Development. In 2017, she was named “Classified Employee of the Year” for Turtleback Elementary School. Recently, Kaleigh received a promotion to a much larger ESS site and is now the Supervisor at Stone Ranch Elementary School. Their program consists of 35 staff members and 240 students. She feels this new and exciting position is a great step in her career.

Kaleigh continues to strive to improve herself so that she can be a better leader for all. She hopes to learn at least one new thing every single day. She attends conferences, such as the National After School Conference, and is part of committees through Poway Unified School District which are aimed towards professional development and growth for the staff and the ESS program as a whole. Kaleigh feels education is a very fluid field and she must stay abreast of current trends to provide the best care possible for the children and families in her program. In her free time, Kaleigh loves working out, reading and shopping. She also enjoys spending time with her family, boyfriend, friends, and her dog, Lulu.


Kristie Spillane grew up attending school in the Poway Unified School District and was one of the first attendees of the afterschool program that is now located at every elementary school in the district.

With both parents working, the afterschool program provided opportunities to be in a safe and enriching program with people that valued the importance of an extended school day. For her first job she was offered an opportunity as a High School Aide and enjoyed being able to make an impact on the children she worked with. Kristie moved from High School Aide, to Instructional Aide and, after a brief separation from the district, came back as a Site Supervisor for the Extended Student Services Program. In 2006, Kristie transitioned into an Early Childhood Development Supervisor where she launched an employee childcare program for infants and toddlers. She now oversees 14 school sites and manages 59 Instructional Assistant’s. Kristie’s highest priority is to support staff and children to ensure that preschool is a safe and caring place to be while parents are working.

If a child feels safe, they can take risks, ask questions, make mistakes, learn to trust, share their feelings and grow.
— Alfie Kohn

The preschool program in Poway Unified School District welcomed almost 1,100 preschoolers to school. The District provides multiple types of programs to meet the needs of children with Fee Based, State Funded, Head Start, Parent Participation and Full Day options for parents in the community.

Kristie has found that working with children is one of the most rewarding and entertaining jobs, as she is able to see the children learn and grow socially, emotionally and educationally, enabling them to have a positive start for their educational journey.